Judith Is Vegan, Savvy Vegetarian Is Not

Every step toward a plant based diet is positive, deserves respect and support

Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian

Message for Savvy Vegetarian:

“I was so excited to find your site and have recommended it to tons of folks and posted it on Facebook walls for my clients.

I was horrified to see eggs and dairy products in some of your recipes. Why on earth would you be promoting eggs and dairy? It contributes to massive suffering, planet destruction and human disease.

Please consider making your site vegan and ditch the eggs and diary. Until then i will not promote anymore.” Sincerely, Lisa S.

Savvy Vegetarian Response:

Hi Lisa,

I’m sorry you feel that way. I’m not sure what I can say that won’t sound defensive, and inspire outraged vegans to throw rotten tomatoes, but I’ll do my best.

Savvy Vegetarian is inclusive, not exclusive. On the home page, right at the top, it says, “Savvy Vegetarian is for everybody, from life long vegetarian or vegan to just thinking about a vegetarian or plant based diet.”

Just For the Record: Savvy Vegetarian recipes are 90 – 95% vegan. A small number of the recipes have eggs and dairy, dating from my pre-vegan days. Many of those have vegan options.

I can think of maybe half a dozen purely lacto or ovo-lacto recipes out of close to 400. We intend to add vegan versions, but that project isn’t top priority. I’m not forcing anyone to make those recipes, or promoting eggs & dairy. Nor am I enforcing a vegan diet.

If I were to make Savvy Vegetarian 100% vegan, that would exclude a lot of people who might someday become vegan and who need support getting there, in their own time and their own way. If they decide to get there.

In my experience, going veg is a personal journey. Some people go fast, some go slow. For some it’s easy, for others it’s hard.

Some can jump right into a vegan diet and do it for the rest of their lives. Some go back and forth between veg and non-veg for many years. There isn’t a set of rules that can be applied to everybody.

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My Story: I’m 64 years old and I’ve been vegan for 3 years. Before that I was an ovo-lacto vegetarian for 30 years. Before that for 7 years I considered myself a vegetarian but ate fish once a week.

I started my vegetarian career as an extreme macrobiotic, quickly developed malnutrition, and went back to eating meat for a while before I went vegetarian again. That’s 42 years of commitment to a vegetarian diet.

Do you think that only the last 3 years of my journey count, and not all the years which brought me to the point of going vegan?

Quinoa Recipe Ebook

I admire your concern for the planet, and for human & animal suffering.

But what’s your feeling about those people who want to go vegetarian and need help and support? Do you honestly feel that they shouldn’t get any help unless they go strictly vegan immediately?

By turning your back on Savvy Vegetarian, you’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater, depriving yourself and others of a valuable resource for adopting a plant based diet. Why would you want to do that?

The day may come when there is no omnivore, no vegetarian, only vegan, but it won’t be soon.

Meanwhile I would rather see many people going vegetarian or semi-veg than a tiny minority going 100% vegan. I think that would have a far greater and more immediate impact on the environment and on human and animal suffering.

In my opinion, “my way or no way” veganism repels more people than it attracts. Please have compassion and tolerance for those who are on the same path, but in different locations.

My belief, and the basis of Savvy Vegetarian:

Every step that anyone makes toward a more plant based diet is positive for themselves and the planet, and deserves respect and support.

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35 Responses to “Judith Is Vegan, Savvy Vegetarian Is Not”

  1. Savvy Veg says:

    Hi Rhoberta,

    Well said! Every long time vegetarian I’ve met has said that they’ve had to find a diet that works for them, which they can sustain for the long haul (usually not fitting any category). That’s one of the secrets of being a life-long vegetarian. That, and not-minding! I left out your phone number because I don’t like to publish that info online. Your story is interesting to me as I’ve been through something similar. I’m sorry that I haven’t got time to chat right now – working on a book. But I answer email regularly, so please send me a message through the site if you’ve got more to say.

    Best, Judith

  2. Rhoberta says:

    Hi Judith,
    I found your response to Lisa very interesting and informative. I’m a senior who had major surgery where I almost lost my life. I learned how to survive and thrive through a mostly raw diet (green smoothies, healing smoothies, salads, pates, elixirs, nutritional treats, etc.), but do include some of my favorite cooked soups, best of the grains, and supplements.

    I’ve seen people on too restricted diets not thriving healthy. I’m an author of a book called: Rhoberta’s Raw Simple Favorites and more…” I recently received an email from a lady who took the time to share her thoughts with me. She made some wonderful comments about my book. In reading your response to Lisa, what comes to my mind is one of her comments: “it also is so refreshing that you have added some cooked foods which shows that you value true health more than an unrealistic fad diet.”

    I have heard comments from others who say what works for them to achieve better health. We need to realize and know we are all different. What works for one, does not work for everyone. We need to do the best we can to achieve great health while being concerned and doing what we can to prevent animal suffering, plant destruction, and human disease.

    Blessings for a beautiful and peaceful day.

  3. Anita says:

    I agree with you whole-heartedly. All people need to be respected no matter where they are on their paths of health–and life! I commend you for your well-worded response. As the editor of Rhoberta’s Raw Simple Favorites, a book of vegan/vegetarian recipes and tips, I understand that we must not beat people over the head. A holier-than-thou approach is objectionable and does not bring about good results. Complimenting people on what they are doing right, rather than focusing on what they may be doing wrong, is much more likely to encourage them to add yet another healthful option to their food choices. Thank you for your very helpful advice!

  4. Savvy Veg says:

    Thanks for your comment, Dr. Bill!

  5. Dr. Bill Croft says:

    The movement to a plant based diet is a great idea for anyone. Research has proven it to be a healthier lifestyle. A vegan diet takes work, so transitioning is important. In many cases, clients will never make it completely vegan, but their health is still better than the majority of Americans provided they ensure a balanced approach to their food choices. This website is a resource for all levels that is mindful of our right to choose.

  6. Savvy Veg says:

    Thank you! I love what you said “baby steps are better than no steps at all”.

  7. Jenny says:

    I am a new vegan and I LOVE your site!! I decided to go vegetarian last year and it felt so good I decided to go vegan this year. I used to be one of those angry vegs, thinking everyone should be like me. Well, that is just crazy to think, and I know that now. It’s better to teach by example than to try and force things on people. Since changing my attitude and helping people make better food choices, 5 of my friends have gone veg (: Baby steps are better than no steps at all. You must give credit where credit is due, and that means all those who are making changes, even small ones. Nobody is perfect, but as long as we are all making the effort, that’s what really matters. Thank you so much for your great site! I will continue to support you, dairy or not (:

  8. Savvy Veg says:

    Hi Naomi, I have no problem with people campaigning against cruelty to animals. I just wish they could be equally passionate against cruelty to people (child prostitution, world hunger, 3rd world sweatshops, Monsanto’s global domination of farmers – so many worthy causes). The anger bothers me, as it’s so quickly directed at fellow humans who aren’t following the right agenda. That’s the real message that I get – anger. As you say, campaigning for love, of carrots, or anything would be far more positive. Thanks for your support, and thanks for writing!

  9. naomi dagen bloom says:

    In the weeks since you posted your excellent response-to-rant, it has stayed on my mind. First there was the chance to tell friends about it–and Savvy Vegetarian–friends who like me are over 65 and working diligently to make our diets more plant-based.

    Second, driving through downtown Portland, Oregon this weekend, I saw several women with large angry animal-rights signs walking around Pioneer Square. What a missed opportunity to promote loving carrots, an idea that might capture positive attention and bring people closer to caring better for themselves.

    That approach could ultimately lead to better treatment of animals too!

  10. Firedog55 says:

    Thank you so much for your comments! Most of all, thank you for being “Inclusive”. I am one of those newbie vegetarians. I started out about a year ago adding more fruits and vegetables to my diet to improve my health. After 9 or 10 months of exploring new vegetable recipes to add variety to my changing diet, I began to say “I’m practically a vegetarian! I still am, practically, but thanks to your web site, I have seen that it DOESN’T have to be an all or nothing thing, but a process! Four months ago, I would have maybe one or two days a week where I ate no meat. Now I have three or four days a week, sometimes more, where I eat no meat. It’s a process and thanks to your web site and people like you, I am learning how to adapt to this new, healthier lifestyle.

    Thanks again!

  11. Savvy Veg says:

    Thanks for your support!

  12. Savvy Veg says:

    Thanks Joy! I’m so glad you’re doing this work. When you consider the Standard American Diet, which most of take for granted as THE way to eat, you know what a giant step it is for anybody to recognize the connections between diet and health and start doing something to change their diets. Every effort to escape those chains deserves wild applause! It’s a shame that it takes a life threatening illness to make that happen.

  13. Savvy Veg says:

    Thanks for your kind words – glad you’re doing better!

  14. Savvy Veg says:

    Thanks for your comment. Very true! Self-restraint is a hard but necessary lesson to learn.

  15. MisRedMojo says:

    The veil of consciousness has to part for everyone at their own time an pace or you can not incarnate its Truth. This goes for any mindful/awareness-based decision you make in your life, whehter it be a relationship, career, religion or not contributing to suffering.

    Its good to have boundaries – it can be very empowering. But if you want to share your “mission” do it in a tone of “positivity.” I believe in sharing the Truth too, but I have learned over & over again that the joy and liberation of not contributing to the suffering of animals is more contagious and influential if you don’t come across as an extremist or zealot.

  16. Have A Daisy Day says:

    Wonderful response Judith. Your website is incredibly important to me. I am in the process of becoming a vegetarian and am making a better effort to understand how to do it in a healthy way since my first attempt left me vitamin deficient. You are totally helping me. Your site is an excellent resource for anyone and everyone, no matter what level they are on in their vegetarian/vegan lifestyle. Thank you!

  17. A very thoughtful reply. I agree that there is more benefit to be had when a lot of people make small changes, than when a handful get it perfectly right!

    I work with cancer patients in a community hospital, counseling them on healthy food choices. Studies have shown that many cancers are linked to a diet high in meat and dairy foods. A well thought out vegan diet is the optimal choice for someone battling cancer, in remission, or simply trying to avoid disease in the first place.

    Even so, I have seen few patients who are able to or even want to make an immediate changeover to a vegan diet. But most do want to make some healthy changes. By providing information and tasty recipes, I encourage them to take it at their own pace, cutting down on animal products and increasing their intake of vegetables, whole grains and fruits. Often, as patients begin to feel and look healthier, they become inspired to learn more and are ready to take that next step toward a better way of eating.

    Food is deeply rooted in culture, tradition and family. It’s not just a physical need, but an emotional one as well. Making such a change is a transitional, often slow process for many, and it is best to encourage it through education, tolerance and understanding.

  18. Jerseygirl says:

    Brava Savvy Vegetarian – all inclusive is the most humane way to be and not just in our eating habits either.I don’t consume eggs, milk or animals but I enjoy my regular emails and recipes. I always find something of interest. This is your site and your doing an excellent job, please keep up the great works.

  19. Savvy Veg says:

    Thanks, Jeannette! It’s maybe a narrow mind set, but could just be inexperience, or the over-zealous assumption some people make when they first go veg or vegan, that it’s their duty to correct others who aren’t on the right path, similar to what newly converted Christians or non-smokers do. I did it myself, so I know there’s hope! :-)

  20. That was a great response to a very narrow mindset. It’s taken me a long time to become vegetarian and your site has been very helpful with that journey. Vegan still sounds too extreme for me and I am very grateful for the recipes you provide on your site. Keep up the good work!
    -Jeannette :)

  21. Dr. Althea Grey says:

    Dear Judith,
    I am a vegan, but like you have spent that last 25 years being a lacto-ova vegetarian. I choose to be a vegan and I am reaping the benefits at age 54 years.
    I have used your site as a training reource for my church and refer many persons to this site(It is so easy to say checkout savvyvegetarian.com). It is an excellent resources that helps in the transition from meat eating to lacto-ova vegetarian.
    Please keep up the good work. I lke your reply and endorse it 100%.
    Also, thank you for the many vegan options in your recipes. I truly enjoy trying them out and eating well.
    God bless you as you move forward.

  22. Carolyn Tibbs says:

    I totally support and agree with your site and love to use it. the good thing about eggs is if you have a place to have chickens, thus no killing etc. For the most part you recies are great and they can sometines be adusted. thanks

  23. Savvy Veg says:

    Hi Blaine914, yes she is both in the right and the wrong. But she sees in black and white! Thank you for your support. Best, Judith

  24. Blaine says:

    Your site is one of the best I’ve seen. I think you are do very well in pleasing most of the people on your site. But you surely can not please everyone all the time. Lisa is both in the right and in the wrong. Everyone has opinions, yet should we expect everyone to share ours. No. Well done Judith, keep up the GRREAT work.

  25. Michelle says:

    As a former lacto-ovo of 14 years, I have also transitioned to a mostly vegan diet in steps over the last 3 years. I am so happy to have found Savvy Vegetarian and I agree that any step in the right direction is still a step in the right direction! Thank you for your recipes and your support for those of us who are “almost vegan” but not there yet!

  26. Steph says:

    having only recently discovered Savvy Veg, i am awed by the variety of information, recipes, tips etc… and I support fully your well thought out and informative in itself response. I am and will remain a regular visitor :)

  27. Savvy Veg says:

    Thank you very much for your supportive comments Stacey, Shelly, Carolyn, Tammy, Vibeke, and Nadine. I was a bit nervous about posting this letter, as I don’t like getting into fights, or being slimed.

  28. Savvy Veg says:

    Hi Cate, I hope things will be easier for you soon. Thanks for writing – I appreciate your support. I have heard of orthorexia through my daughter and I’ve met a few who have the disorder – I just didn’t know it had a name. Not that everybody who is concerned about a healthy diet should be labeled an orthorexic, it’s just something to be aware of as a reality check for most of us. Thanks for the mention. Best, Judith

  29. nadine peterson says:

    Thank you for your very thoughtful reply. As a fairly newby vegetarian and hopeful vegan (someday), I really appreciate all of the useful information you supply as well as your support!

  30. Vibeke says:

    Excellent rebuttal. The path to a whole plant based diet (whether vegan or not) is long for most people. Being inclusive and supportive is the best way to help new people on the path.

  31. Tammy says:

    I am a vegan and I love your stuff. If I come across one of your recipes with eggs or milk and it sounds like a recipe to try I just sub in non animal products for the dairy. I also think that good health is a journey and as someone who leads a weekly class in good nutrition I make it known that what you eat is a personal choice. All my students know I am vegan and I usually only give out vegan recipes but I have never forced them to change. If change doesn’t come from the inside then there is a greater chance it will not be permanent. Keep up the good work. There are always people out there who try to sholve their ways of thinking and doing things on others, but they aren’t the ones who bring about real change!

  32. CateM says:

    I have never written to you before, but I want to thank you for Savvy Vegetarian and all of the recipes and articles you share here. Over my lifetime I too have been vegetarian in different expressions and in the past few months because of a healthy crisis am returning to that lifestyle after five years or more. I started making gradual changes at first, and your website has been an invaluable tool to me along the way. At present, I have cut out all forms of meat and sugar, but I still occasionally eat fish. I still occasionally eat free range organic eggs and dairy products such as yogurt and cheese, as well, mostly using them in recipes.

    I agree with your statement that “my way or no way” would have repelled me when I was searching for help and options a few months ago, and I am grateful for tolerance and compassion. I have friends and family who are or have been vegan in the past who are intolerant and political in their approach to food and I find it exhausting to be with them, especially around a meal. While help and advice is welcome, a judgmental or religious attitude only brings shame on those of us who are trying to make changes, or are learning, or are not willing to go entirely veg. A full-on approach is too overwhelming at first. On your Facebook page you state: Savvy Vegetarian is open-minded, irreligious, and as far as possible, apolitical. That’s why I like it here.

    It’s interesting that just before finding this post on Facebook I read the following article on another site which I find helpful in my search for recipes and information, Dr Ben Kim, Experience Your Best Health. Here is a link to the article he posted: http://drbenkim.com/articles-orthorexia.html. It may or may not be of interest to you and to some of your readers. I offer it only for your information and not as any kind of statement or judgment.

    Thank you for this website and for all of the resources you have posted here. I find it invaluable and wouldn’t want you to change a thing, and I recommend it to many of my friends and family who are also wanting to change their way of eating.

    Cate Morris

  33. Carolyn Joyce says:

    I concur whole-heartedly with your response to Lisa S. As you say, any step(s) towards a plant-based diet should be encouraged, even (or maybe especially) baby steps.

    Many hard-core vegans can sometimes come off the same way hard-core religionists do–“My choice is right, and anything else is WRONG (oh, and, of course, you’re going to Hell).” I beg to differ. I happen to be vegan as well, but I don’t think it’s my job to convert the world to my way of thinking/eating. If asked, I tell people I’m vegan. If not, I don’t–again, not my job. For those who are just beginning vegetarians, your recipes are a tremendous help. You also include gluten-free recipes, which also are a great help to many people, but you don’t call your site “Gluten-Free-Vegan”, nor should you have to. You deliver on what you promise, and those that aren’t happy with it really should look elsewhere and not accuse you of any wrong doing.

    I congratulate you on your reasonable, well-thought-out response, and support you in keeping your site exactly the way it is.

  34. Shelly says:

    Bravo, Savvy Vegetarian! Your response could not be more reasoned. As someone who agrees with *nearly* every rationale behind vegetarianism (and many behind veganism too), but who is still struggling with the idea of entirely giving up meat, I am so grateful to see that you empathize with–and respect–me and people like me. Thank you.

  35. Stacey says:

    I completely agree. I am vegan. And when I see a recipe that has dairy or eggs -I know how to make the appropriate substitutions. The goal it to help more people make the transition. Every little steps counts. I started a business making biodegradable dry-erase calendars (www.planetsafeplanners.com) to help rid the world of plastic dry-erase calendars. Slowly but surely we are accomplishing that goal. Every little step counts.
    Keep up the great work! Stacey

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